Juan de Tassis, 1st Count of Villamediana

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Juan de Tassis y Acuña, 1st Count of Villamediana, (Valladolid 15?? - Madrid 1607) was a Spanish diplomat and official, awarded his title by king Felipe III of Spain in 1603, and the General Head of Spanish Post Offices.

The Somerset House Conference representatives, 19 August 1604. Spanish delegation on the left, English delegation on the right : Earl Thomas Sackville,(near the window, Lord Treasurer), Charles Howard, the Lord High Admiral, Earl Charles Blount, Henry Howard, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and Robert Cecil, nearest, Secretary of State, James I's leading minister. Left, Spanish-Flemish representatives: Juan Fernández de Velasco, 5th Duke of Frías, Constable of Castile, (near the window, opposite to Thomas Sackville), Juan de Tassis y Acuña, 1st Count of Villamediana, deceased 1607, Alessandro Robido from the Duchy of Milan, and the Flemish Charles de Ligne, 2nd Prince of Arenberg, Jean Richardot, and Louis Verreyken, Audencier of Brussels, nearest. Oil painting, 2445 x 3075 mm, National Maritime Museum, London. Probably by Spanish Royal Painter Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, (1553–1608), who befriended Flemish painter and diplomat at the service of the Spanish Crown Peter Paul Rubens. Pantoja de la Cruz portrayed also other English and Scottish aristocrats traveling to and from Spain, leaving paintings now in some English stately homes.


The family was originally Italian, and its members extended through Europe, from Flanders to Spain. The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V awarded them positions as heads of public lodgings (Hostes) and postal offices (postas). Johann Baptist von Taxis was the head of the Reichspost. His oldest son, Raymond de Tassis (circa 1515 - 1579), went to Spain and became postmaster general of the kingdom. Raymond married Catalina de Acuña (circa 1515 - 1579). Juan de Tassis was his son and heir.

Under king Philip II of Spain he was in the service of the unfortunate Prince Don Carlos, who died as a teenager. He participated in the war fighting the Morisco revolt in Granada and in North African towns such as Oran, now in Algeria. He was made a Knight of the Military Order of Santiago, serving the 3rd Duke of Alba in the conquest of Lisbon, Portugal, 29 June 1581. While he was there, his only son, Juan de Tassis y Peralta, 2nd Count of Villamediana was born. In 1583 Tassis returned to Madrid with the king. He was created the 1st Count of Villamediana by king Philip III of Spain on 12 October 1603, confirming him as Correo Mayor, or Head of the Postal Communications within the Spanish Empire. He was married to Maria de Peralta Muñatones.

In June 1603, Tassis headed a Spanish-Flemish delegation which visited London to seek an end to the war with England which had begun in 1585. Elizabeth had recently died and her successor James I quickly sought to end the long and draining conflict with Spain which he inherited. Therefore, the Peace Treaty was successfully signed on 28 August 1604.

Tassis died in 1607 and was buried at the Principal Chapel of the Convento de San Agustín, Valladolid. His son, Juan de Tassis y Peralta, 2nd Count of Villamediana, assassinated in 1622, inherited the Villamediana title and the position of head of the Imperial Posts.


  • Otis H. Green, "Villamediana as Correo mayor in the Kingdom of Naples", Hispanic Review 15:2 (Apr., 1947), pp. 302–306.